Classic Vampire Films

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There have been tons of films dedicated to the legends and tales surrounding vampires. Some depict them as hideous monsters and others in a more complex light. There are gory slasher films and nuanced performances, beautiful period pieces and gritty comic-book stylization. While I could write many posts about the vampire movies I enjoy, I will start with a few of the classics.

Dracula (1931): When you think of Dracula, whether you have seen this film in its entirety or not, you probably picture Bela Lugosi. This adaption of Bram Stoker’s novel was the cinematic introduction that most people had to the lead character of the book, and Lugosi gave an iconic performance. It remains one of the most renowned versions of this tale, despite there being so many adaptions. It is also significant in that you never actually see Dracula’s fangs, nor are there any bite marks displayed throughout the film.

John Carpenter’s Vampires: this film takes an interesting direction by implying that the Catholic Church (the same people who have an exorcism rite) is aware of and actively has an interest in destroying vampires. The vampires in this film have telepathic powers and are damaged in sunlight. The whole film is a quest to find a legendary black cross and use it to perform a ritual that will allow them to be outside during the day, eliminating one of the accepted restrictions involving vampires. It also boasts a talented cast and is definitely worth watching.

Dracula (1979) While this is no Bela Lugosi vehicle, it is good in its own right. And although it lacks Lugosi, anything that has Laurence Olivier in it is going to be worth watching. The lead role, played by the excellent Frank Langella, didn’t wear fangs for his part either. It was actually a stipulation for Langella when he took the role that he refused to do any scenes with bloody fangs. His take on the role was interestingly noble and elegant. For a different perspective on Stoker’s character, it is a good one to see at least once.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.I enjoyed Ann Rice’s books, so this was a natural next step for me. The first film adaption has a talented cast, including Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, and a young Kirsten Dunst. It is a gorgeous period piece set in the lush bayou of historical Louisiana. It’s just beautiful to watch. Interesting, heartbreaking, and creepy all at once.

The Lost Boys: I certainly can admire and appreciate the Frog Brothers and their extensive knowledge of vampire lore. The film also creates the concept of “vamping out,” where a person goes from being themselves into a blood-lustingcreature. There are many references to legend, like garlic (although in this it doesn’t work), holy water (which does), and having to invite a vampire into your home. They also have half-vampires, which is reversible. I like this one because it is interesting and funny at the same time.

Those are the most interesting films for me, and they are the ones that I think of the most when comparing newer films that are released.